L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

09 September 2007 Blog Home : September 2007 : Permalink

The Riviera Expat View

A couple of things here. I suppose if I weren't an idle sod I'd make two separate posts, but since I am, I won't.

Firstly the Foot and Mouth outbreak in the UK, caused, we now know, by the "ever caring, ever hepful" government,
has had a fascinating ripple. We expats are being deprived of our bacon. The French, who are of course wonderful when it comes to wine, olive oil and all sorts of other gourmet delights, have never really figured out the breakfast thing. Hence if you want to have a proper fried English breakfast in all its artery hardening goodness you are required to get yourself to the nearest emporium dedicated to ripping off the homesick expat community and purchase the required bacon, sausages (optional), baked beans etc.

Well the beans are still available, as is the Marmite and the Rose's marmalade for the toast afterwards, but ever since the outbrak of foot and mouth proper back bacon has been almost unavailable. There is the non-smoked frozen variety in our local emporium, but the smoked refrigerated stuff, which I find better because it doesn't have all the white crud, has not been for sale. This despite the fact that said bacon is called "Danepak" and 'øriginætes' from Denmark. Well it turns out that the EU rules for meat meant that as a result of the Foot & Mouth outbreak all meat exports from the UK were banned. This included (by some logic that utterly escapes me) meat that was packed in Denmark and imported to the UK. I'm sure some Eurocratic jobsworth can explain the logic but its been causing me major hassle and, I would guess, a significant number of other expats too.

Secondly water. A fellow expat friend of mine makes plastic pipes (to be more accurate he runs factories that make pipes). He noted that as far as he is concerned as a manufacturer there is no difference between a water pipe and a gas pipe in terms of its construction and ability to not leak. In fact he sells the same pipes to both industries. Oddly enough though gas companies are able to prevent the widespread leakage of gas from their pipe network, while water companies seem incapable of preventing amazing amounts of water from disappearing from their network. He and I speculate that metered water would not just provide an incentive to consumers but would also make the provider keener on not throwing the stuff away because the more he has the more he can charge for. I'm sure that politically metering water in the UK is going to be unpopular but,as we both noted, we have metered water here in France (and IIRC on the Côte d'Azur two separate tariffs - one for summer and one for winter) and there are fewer leaks and far more care and attention paid to the water system here. Unlike in the UK water here is a limited commodity and particularly at this time of year, the lack of recent rain makes it clear who irrigates their lawns and who goes for the "natural" look. Me? I'm in the natural camp. I haven't had to mow the lawn for 3 months...